Archive for the Guest Blogs Category

Guest Post: Wastelands: Making Your World-Part 3

Posted in Guest Blogs, Wastelands with tags , , on November 12, 2009 by Jaym Gates

ENTRY 10: Making Your World: Part-3

Forgive the delay in guest blogs, but now I am finally back. Now, let’s get to business.

A world that has sentient beings is sure to have some form of society. It might be just starting, or could be in place and have been in place for centuries, but regardless of what it is, the chances of it being the only one in the world is slim to nill! Even if it is a lone faction, then there are going to be people in the faction who probably do not agree with the others. You can see it in US politics even if you’re looking for a real example! You have two sides of a nation and they don’t get along!

I digress from that though, because I have no intention to turn this into a rant about politics. So, let’s talk creating a faction. In all honesty, I think this is one of the easiest parts of the worldbuilding. Especially for anyone who has had a civics class where one of the things you had to do was make your own nation. It’s not going to be as easy as that, but you can clearly decide some of the history, and the terrain and area the faction calls home will influence some of the issues. A desert society will most likely have some different values then one that is founded in a mountainous area. I will admit some of the qualities will be the same, but an environment can have an impact on the population and their concerns.

The faction in question will face many trials with the environment that you’ve put it in, and in a fantasy context, this can come from something as simple as a dragon terrorizing the countryside. In more modern settings, you probably won’t have worries like that, but can still have things otherworldly and weird if you want, or you can have more mundane problems, like society not getting along with one another, conflict with another faction, it all really depends on what you think is best to create an interesting world.

Part of this that I think is also VERY important is to not force it all to come out how you visualize it. In my experience, most of the time it’s best to let the setting just go the way it wants to go. There is something to be said for moving it a long a little, mostly when just getting it started, but it’s like characters. You want them to be them. Not someone else, not someone who could be considered an author avatar, or *shudder-shudder* a Mary Sue.

And that’s really it. Your players will create characters to get involved in the events you come up with and it can grow from there! There’s a lot more, but you prolly don’t need my help with it. So, this ends the Worldbuilding section. Next time, expect a little history for Wastelands just to help break it all up!

-Havoc

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Wastelands: Making Your World, Pt. 2

Posted in Guest Blogs, Wastelands with tags , , , , on October 9, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Apologies for the late post. Been busy!

Making Your World: Part-2

Alrighty! So, if you followed the last entry for this guest-blog, then you’ll have everything more or less in order. You have a world and a basic setting that you can go from! But what’s this? You need something to populate it! And I’m not talking about sentient beings, I’m talking creatures. Now, I’ve already done something like this on the FW Forum about creating unique creatures to populate your setting.

Obviously with an RP, you can more or less go to any of the numerous archives of mythological creatures and pick and choose, but at the same time, there’s something to be said for originality. If you’re gonna make creatures for the setting, then it’s time to do some research. Obviously, there’s a number of things that you could do, but first let me state this little disclaimer:

This is by no means a hard and fast guide to making and populating a fictional world with creatures! This is merely a method I have found to be quite successful. You do not have to do any of this if you want to populate a fictional setting with creatures, especially if you have your own method and that works for you.

Now then, with that out of the way… First thing you should consider if you’re creating wildlife for your setting is the environment. Look at real life. There are a lot of creatures that are perfectly adapted to their environments. So, why should fictional creatures not be this way too? You won’t see a big furry bear-like beast in the desert, nor would you see a skinny sleek lizard in the ice and snow! Ah… But remember, especially if you’re doing fantasy/sci-fi that you can make them whatever you want. However, make sure they fit. Using the lizard, if it lives in such a cold environment, how does it survive? How does it maintain a body temperature that keeps it from being just a lizard-shaped piece of ice? If it’s a kind of dragon, you have the possibility right there, especially if they breathe fire. The internal flame is what keeps them alive in such cold environments. Put some thought into these creatures so they fit.

Another possibility for these creatures is that they were actually made by some divine force or a sorcerer… Or even a company monkeying around in genetic engineering! This can help create a plot and even an adventure or story!

However, as was brought up in the debate about this, you do not want to push things too far. The creatures might play an important role, but do not go overboard listing everything! Sure, it might be fun and might come in handy later, especially if you need some bit of info in the story, but there is a fine line between interesting bits of information and writing a wikipedia entry on something. That brings me to another rant, but… I’m not gonna get into that about how wikipedia started out as intending to be a useful database and somehow evolved into a massive collection of pop-culture where there’s more information on the episodes of Star Trek then the American Civil War! That however is a tangent I don’t think we should get into. Hell, you could probably do an entire wikipedia entry on how wikipedia is… Wait! Wait… Tangent… Besides, the TV Tropes entry on wikipedia says exactly what I did it looks like…

So, that’s gonna do it for this entry. Next time we’ll talk about factions and sentient races!

Until then!

-Havoc

Wastelands: Making Your World: Part 1

Posted in Guest Blogs, Wastelands with tags , , , , on September 17, 2009 by Jaym Gates

ENTRY 8: Making Your World: Part-1

Whenever you start making a world for an RP, you have to think of, obviously, what kind of RP you want to play in. There are a lot of different kinds. Matter of fact, I’m quite confident that there are as many kinds of RP as there are genres and people because of the limitless factors of one’s imagination. However, just saying ‘I don’t care’ isn’t exactly the best idea. Sometimes I will admit that this can lead to some very fun and interesting RPs but, there are better ways to go about it and actually create something worthwhile and interesting.

The first thing you need to decide is if this RP is going to be based on anything. If it is something like a fan RP for something like a popular TV show or a movie or video game, then you already have most of your work done. The setting, characters, events and rules of that world are already in place. The important thing to remember with this sort of RP though is to make sure you follow those rules that the setting has already established. Sure, you can probably get away with bending them, especially if you’re in a group of friends, but sometimes you will run into people who follow things a little too close to the letter. These fans can make any RP like this a living hell because of how closely they want things to follow. I admit, there is a line that should be clear, but sometimes these kinds of individuals can make that line so thin that even a small mistake can ruin it.

If you’re just coming up with something on your own, then you can have a lot more free reign. This aspect too, potential players can jump in on if they are interested. The very first thing you should do is have vision. What kind of setting and story do you want your players to be in? Like I said above, the possibilities are only limited by imagination. This is really really basic, I know, but we all must crawl before we can run. And figuring out the basics can also really help in the long run. It’s a skeleton for you to build everything on.

The everything mentioned above is going to be what happens, the story of the setting! Given the more free-form aspects of forum-based RP, there is more for place for this sort of thing, since the events and everything aren’t set in stone, but players actively help create the world around them. Be sure to have at least enough that you can get started though. Sometimes the more you have the better it is, but remember: don’t go overboard. Your players will make some of their own stuff as it is. You can make more and more stuff for it if you want (like some of the developments for Wastelands goes, I make up some of the basics then the players fill in the details, or vise-versa depending on what’s going on) and the bigger your setting gets, the more you have to add to fill it. Yes, sometimes you don’t HAVE to, because of necessity, but in my experience, it’s always good to have a little extra then too little at all.

Join me next time when we have a creature feature! How to fill your world with flora and fauna that’s not only interesting, but believable! ~Havoc

Fifthwind Forums
Wastelands

Wastelands: A History of the Breed Empire, Pt. 3

Posted in Guest Blogs, Wastelands with tags , , , , on August 28, 2009 by Jaym Gates

A little late, but here’s the next installment of Wastelands lore!

PART 3: The Fall

Centuries passed, and the Scarab Family kept the Empire united and under a firm control. Much of the progress was through technology, quickly gaining the Empire the position as the most technologically advanced faction on the planet. Programs arose in the fields of space exploration, medicine, fusion and most important to the Empire, blending of magic and technology. This was what allowed the Empire to rise to power in the first place and their understanding of how to do this elevated them even further.

However, population started to become a problem. The size was getting harder and harder to control and keep track of, so The Emperor, Horatio Scarab III, deemed it was time to expand. This would be a full-scale invasion of Central and South America and come to be known as The Tartarus Campaign, due to the level of chaos that took place during it. Virtually every legion was sent into South America to deal with the resistance. What the Empire expected was for something like the Six Months War. An enemy that underestimated them and would fall quickly. What they were in for though was a three year war against an enemy that knew their land and used it to their advantage.

A benefit that the Empire gained though was through a new Supreme Lord Arbiter named Vradeus Gaump. As the new supreme commander of the Imperial Legions, he quickly turned things around late in the second year and by the end of 2426, South America was under the control of the Empire. Most of this was due to the success of Gaump’s tactics and beliefs for a military force. This lead to him writing a book known as The Griffin’s Tome, which detailed numerous tactics, beliefs and philosophical standings that had led the legions to victory.

The next move of The Empire though was more out of spite, due to the chaos the Tartarus Campaign had caused, though there have been scholars arguing about if The Emperor actually made the right choice or not. This was the decision to commit genocide. To utterly annihilate the humans, orcs trolls and elves in North and South America. This was a controversial objective, which soon caused many of the non-hybrids to start fighting back. The small resistance groups that had existed since the beginning found new blood and soon were committing acts of terrorism against their oppressors.

The final nails in the coffin came when the Emperor ordered the nuclear strike on Boston, combined with the revelation of the genetic degregation. In mere centuries, many hybrids now looked stuck between a human and animal shape, where their once ability to shift between a hybrid and human state was one of their greatest advantages. When information about the genetic problems came to light, Gaump made the choice to leave, due to the fact that there had been no results in over a hundred years. He made the information public, and with his departure, several of the Western provinces joined Gaump’s ideals that these facts were not reasonable for the Empire to work. A clash of ideals ruined the Empire and gave birth to a new power that directly opposed them known as The Garadal Republic.

Everything that the first Scarab had worked for and fought to preserve for his own people, was destroyed that day. The provinces of South America became city states while the East and West of North America turned on one another and war came to the Breed. Despite all their advancements and propaganda stating they were superior then the other races, they had fallen to the human side of their nature.

Next time we’ll be back to talking about worldbuilding and other RP elements that make their way into forum-based gaming. That’s all for now!

-Havoc

Wastelands: History of the Breed Empire pt. 1

Posted in Guest Blogs, Wastelands with tags , , , , on July 30, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Another great guest-column from Havoc about the Wastelands forum-based RPG!

ENTRY 5: A History of The Breed Empire-Part 1

We’ll be deviating from a bit of game stuff today to bring you a small piece of history from Wastelands. Namely, a multi-part series on the rise and breakup of The Breed Empire.

PART ONE: The Rebellion

The birth of a nation can be a very violent thing. In some cases it can be very smooth and quiet, but given the past history of humanity, it does not always come to pass. The Breed were no exception either. When Horatio Scarab the first vowed to show humanity their inhumanity through what they had created (IE: them) he planned and made sure that it would be an example that would carve a permanent mark in world history.

This mark is known as the Six Months War. Named as such for its length. The Breed call it ‘The Tyrant’s Fall’ and the end of it is regarded among the breed as a national holiday. During this time, the Breed had access to the massive funds of a genetics research and engineering company by the name of Gentech Engineering. With almost a billion in funds, and a long yet carefully thought out plan, Scarab and the hybrids infiltrated the American people over almost a century. There they appeared human, among real humans, orcs, trolls and elves and went unnoticed, until there had been enough to infiltrate aspects of the US government. Namely the higher echelons of the military. Once it had been done, the breed found access to the numerous minuteman missile silos all over the US. In 2115, when the world was in utter turmoil and the US was seen as one of only a few places where there was no conflict, the breed prepared for their strike. Predictably, the president of the time saw it as the duty of the US to make the world safe for democracy and deployed a large number of armed forces throughout the world. Most notably Europe to keep the peace, Africa to assist in aiding the defenders against the spider-centaurs known as arachnains, and China to aid in pushing back the naga.

At this time, the breed attacked, launching several of the missiles at key targets in the US to cripple their war machine and cut off the rest of the forces from the mainland. Despite the advanced technology and numbers, the breed were able to isolate and destroy the traces of resistance thanks to their planning and access to tried and true weapons. At the end of the conflict, the last of the US forces retreated to the West Coast. Scarab decided to show them a grand gesture that would be the end of United States. One that would also show the rest of the world just how far the breed were willing to go against their enemies. A massive nuclear bombardment. Using several minuteman missiles, the breed launched them along a single massive and coordinated strike against the West Coast, turning the entire region, from the southern reaches of California to the Washington/British Colombia border into a nuclear wasteland. Virtually nothing survived the assault and the background radiation is still present to this day.

With no clear power in the chaos, the breed, under Scarab formed an empire. They modeled themselves after the Romans as they identified with the conquering forces. They set about rebuilding and separating the normals from their own. The humans, orcs trolls and elves found themselves without a leader and forced into the ruins of the once glorious American cities. The few that hadn’t been ruined with conflict were claimed by the breed. Not all the normals went quietly though, and many to this day fight a guriella war against the Empire.

To combat this threat, two military forces were created. One for matters of the state and internal affairs, known as the Population Defense Force, or PDF. Forming a mix of national guard and police force, the PDF quickly earned a reputation for being brutal and straightforward.

The second has become synonymous with war in the Americas and are an example of the blending of animal instinct and human intellect and how powerful they are when working together. The Imperial Legions.

That is all for now folks! See you next time for the golden age of the empire!

-Havoc

Wastelands: Keeping It Going

Posted in Guest Blogs, Wastelands with tags , , , , , on July 16, 2009 by Jaym Gates

ENTRY 4: Keeping it Going

So, you’ve gotten a story idea for your new RP and think it’s really kickass. Great! Now, you got some interest going and people really wanna jump in and play it. That’s even better! You’ve gotten it started now and you’re going along for a few days, weeks, months however long and then interest starts to wane. Your players don’t post as much as they did when the thread first came around. You know they’re still around, but haven’t posted in a fair while. What’s wrong?

A number of things can do this, one of which is real-life. The influence of the outside world can really get in the way of posting (I speak from experience when I say this). They might still have the interest, but not the time.

The other thing that might happen is well within your control: the players have lost interest because it’s become a little dull or predictable or just slow. Something that CAN cause this is your own devotion to the story. If you came up with it, it’s your job to help keep it going and people interested! If someone doesn’t post for a while either, this can mean someone has lost interest. What’s a creator to do?

Well, a lesson I have learned from Wastelands is to definitely take into account what the players are saying. Talk to them outside the story and get their take on it. If they’re devoted fans of the setting you have created, this can become, like I have said many times, fertile ground for new Rps. If it has gotten stale and people haven’t posted in a while, see what they think should happen. It should be taken with a slight grain of salt, especially if the player is suggesting god-moding.

Which is another important topic I think we should cover right now. God-moding is a term used to describe a character that is unbelievably powerful, can do anything and has no faults. A gamemaster CAN use this to an extent though, if they are controlling one or two characters to steer the plot, provided they don’t overtake it. In Wastelands, this takes the appearance of some major characters in the setting. They have their stories (some of which are becoming novels) and for a time, they intersect with the RP that is going on. In one or two cases, the individuals who I use for steering the plot are also used to deal with the unruly players or god-moders. (It helps that the characters I use to deal with god-moders in the setting ARE for all intents and purposes actual deities). But, like I just said, a gamemaster who uses them needs to use them carefully.

Which brings me back to the original point. If a gamemaster carefully applies this, they can generate interest. Maybe one of these important characters in setting needs these peoples help for some reason or another? Maybe the players can investigate this character. If they are so powerful, then it’s logical to assume they could be a powerful ally, or deadly threat. Just remember that the RP is NOT about that character and you getting to play around like a god with them! Like any ‘meal’ this character is just a side to the main course of the player’s adventure.

Another way you can keep interest in your RP is by doing what I talked about last time too. Getting new blood involved. They can get involved and interested in a world others may have forgotten about. This can ultimately help bring it back.

Sometimes though, just a little nudge is all people need to get back into it. By this, you can try sending personal messages to the players to see how many are interested in it still and out of those who will continue. This is especially helpful with players who are sporadic in their postings, but it should be taken with a grain of salt. Something like this CAN (though I have never had this problem, I am sure it can be seen like this) be seen as a little pushy.

In all, the best thing to keep an RP going and the interest in it strong is to take a page from Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War. Keep the troops moving and morale high. They will be eager to fight and that momentum can help push them on towards victory. In the world of Forum RPGs, this can be interpreted as keeping the players motivated and intrigued in the gamemaster’s setting. Keeping the post count up and regular to keep it from getting stale and slow, and push through to the conclusion of the story, in which another can begin.

Join me next time when we’ll take a break from all this technical stuff and delve into some fiction of Wastelands!

WASTELANDS: Proving Grounds

Posted in Guest Blogs, Wastelands with tags , , , , , , on July 2, 2009 by Jaym Gates

ENTRY 3: The Proving Grounds: Helping new players into RPs

From Fifthwind Forums and The Wastelands.

One of the most important things I have learned in the course of running the wastelands threads is that it’s important to help the new players get into the game and keep it going. Keeping it going can be easy when you have a dedicated base, but it’s the new blood coming in that helps that greatly. New players bring new ideas and if you can work in those ideas, you can have an ever-expanding adventure!

Whenever someone is getting into something, not necessarily an RP thread, but anything, it’s usually a good idea to ask a lot of questions. Whenever a new player comes along for Wastelands, I encourage them to do so. This helps them get into the game and helps me build answers which help new players in return in the form of precedents.

When I first started, there were many questions. Most notably “what makes wastelands so different from a typical fantasy RPG?” The most obvious is setting. Like I said in the first entry in this guest-blog series, it avoids the typical sword-and-sorcery but it also is far grayer when it comes to the question of morality.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to questions that an RPer will ask the organizer though. Some of them will be very practical involving time and posting. Whoever comes up with the idea for the RP is going to be responsible for all the story and work. But it’s helping new players get involved into the story. They already know all the ins and outs (or most of the time) of what the RP is about, so they are responsible for helping the uninitiated get into it.

It’s a fine line though. Enough depth will attract people, especially those who love a rich world to play in, but too much will overwhelm the player (a problem that I have had with Wastelands. It’s gotten so big it’s kinda daunting for some people!) with all the information and background. If there’s too little, then it comes across as either half-assed or not entirely thought through, which makes the world feel barren.

Of course, this all depends on how deep the RP is. The more plot and story you have in it, the harder the average person will have to adapt to it. Wastelands has been lucky that it’s on a forum inhabited by talented writers who are interested in the story. Not just some wild action adventure story (though it can be if a player wants). The number one thing to remember is that it’s the new blood that will help determine an RP’s success. If there is one thing the internet is very good for, it is word of mouth advertising. If new players enjoy the RP you have created word will spread. Just like this blog is spreading the words of my host, in addition to my own.

Anyways, to close this entry, here are some quick rules for RP makers to remember when dealing with new players:

1) BE PATIENT!!!: I cannot stress this enough! If you are patient and willing to listen and answer questions, then you will be well-remembered, not to mention you will get to know your players, which can help you tailor the adventure to suit the players. Besides, you were new to it too yourself at one time!

2) Create an FAQ or Primer: Something like this can save you a lot of headaches as it is more or less a quickstart guide for players to access. The primer should contain basic information about the RP, including links to important parts, or everything a player needs to get started. This should include:

a. Character Creation

b. Available Threads to play on

c. General RP Rules (Sometimes the organizer will have set out special rules that must be followed. I don’t usually, but just in case)

d. What to do in the event of grievances

3) Help new players with their posts: I admit this shouldn’t be something an organizer does too much, because A) the organizer can influence the plot this way (which I admit can be useful if the players have gotten off-track) and B) it doesn’t improve a player’s posts in the longrun. However, helping a new player with their posts to get the feel of the world and even just help them with grammar and just basic writing skills.

4) BE OPEN TO SUGGESTIONS FOR THE STORY!!!: Again, another point I cannot stress enough, especially for the OCD in an organizer. You can try and predict the actions of a player, but you’re better off having a rough goal and path in mind that you can easily change depending on what’s going on. For example, your players may decide to go north instead of east. One thing I have found with new players is they are usually enthusiastic for the story and game, and that can be fertile ground for ideas!

And that’s it for now! For the next feature I’ll talk about keeping an interest going in an RP.

Happy wanderings!

-Havoc